International women’s day

International women’s day

Last week we celebrated international women’s day so we thought it would be useful to provide a bit of information regarding how to break the bias in the workplace.

Alyson Cane, Business Development Consultant at Premier Jobs UK commented “International Woman’s Day is a day to celebrate Women to showcase some really inspirational role models and really push forwards on full gender equality. As Recruiters, we can help break the bias by having open conversations with Hiring companies to ensure they implement a fair selection policy. We like to showcase the incredible talent that is available regardless of gender through inclusive and embracing of everybody’s ability to progress their careers without any glass ceilings being imposed. We welcome any company that wants to talk to us about how they can encourage diversity in the workplace”.

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day – #BreakTheBias – is one that resonates with me personally, as it does for many of my friends and colleagues.

As recruitment professionals, we have an important role to play in ensuring the jobs market is accessible to everyone.  One of the strands of IWD is “Where Women Work Makes All the Difference”. We know it’s the right thing to do – personally and in business.  But the question is how can we #BreakTheBias?  Here are our top five thoughts:  

As recruitment professionals, we have an important role to play in ensuring the jobs market is accessible to everyone.  We know it’s the right thing to do – personally and in business.  But the question is how can we #BreakTheBias?  Here are our top five thoughts:  

1. Look at job ads and job descriptions

Using the right language that doesn’t unwittingly exclude some groups from applying for a role is key to breaking the bias. It sounds obvious, but if a client’s job description looks like they want a particular type of person, it’s time to have a probing conversation and challenge any preconceptions – as they will be the ones missing out on talent.  In addition, if a business wants to encourage applications from a diverse range of candidates showing their commitment to Diversity & Inclusion – make sure you say so!

2. Apply the lessons from the pandemic

Offering flexible working can encourage a broader range of candidates to apply. During the pandemic, we had to adapt to a new way of working – one that has created benefits. The REC found that £9bn could be added to UK productivity if we embrace the benefits of flexible working.  Working with Recruitment Agencies can help Hiring Companies increase diversity. A study by the REC showed two thirds (62%) of businesses told them that working with a recruiter had helped them increase the diversity of the candidates they considered.

3. Know your starting point

Many want to support Equality, Diversity & Inclusion – but two fifths of businesses do not record demographic data on their business, or even their leadership teams. You know the phrase: “what gets measured, gets done”? It’s more than a slogan – without this data, we can’t hope to bring about change as we won’t know what it is we need to tackle and improve.

4. Get a workplace menopause policy

It may feel uncomfortable but there is a good chance that people in your business are or will be going through the menopause. UK government and devolved administrations are increasing their attention on menopause because sadly too many people who experience symptoms drop out of work (Bupa put it at 1 million). That represents a massive cost to business – one we can ill afford in this candidate-short market. Acas has a good guide for employers, and the REC joined with other stakeholders to put the case on Menopause and Employment to government last year.

5. Challenge yourself to find out what you don’t know

Finally: do you know your blind spots? Ask those around you to help you identify yours and then commit to working on them. There are lots of courses aimed at helping employers tackle unconscious bias but taking responsibility for our own personal development, by reading around an issue or asking questions, can be just as valuable. Make sure you get full permission to ask a colleague before launching into questions – and it’s important not to make assumptions about what you hear or having stereotypes.  Deploying those coaching and active listening skills has never been more important.